MindTree has beautiful gardens in different parts of the world. Tending to these are many happy MindTree Minds. Among them, is the Gardener who goes around with his well worn cloth bag, a stick and a blanket. With these, he can go anywhere.
‘ Gardener’ is not a title, though he is often referred to by that term. In reality - it is just a role. It gives him some precedence but no entitlement. It bestows no powers, only the capability to make some impact.
In the past, he has tended to many gardens himself, from vegetables to flowering ones, from the ornamentals to fruit growing orchards. In the process, he has learnt a few things about the weather, the soil, about seeds and insects. He does not grow gardens anymore – that, the MindTree Minds do. Over time, many of them have become stronger and in many ways, more capable than him. He loves it that way. They all like him and respect him because he comes to them whenever they ask him to, sometimes he just drops by on his own.
When he comes to a particular garden, everyone shares food with him with great rejoice. He, in turn, shares a little something from his cloth bag – some dried berries, a jackfruit someone might have given him along the way, or some chewy herb. Then they all sit together and talk. They mostly talk about their gardens. The Gardener listens to them without questioning. For the most part, he keeps quiet. Sometimes, he does not say anything at all.
Sometimes though, through the huddle, he is able to listen to a shrill noise from afar; even as no one else is able to, and recognizes that it is the borer insect’s song. The group quickly senses that he is hearing something unusual. Then they too pick up the shrill sound and soon everyone knows what needs to get done.
At the garden, he is able to look at the leaves and say which ones are happy. He also is able to spot the occasional weed. His word on what is a weed, is listened to with great reverence. At times, he is seen just picking up twigs, straightening an over-enthusiastic vine or simply sweeping the floor. No one quite notices him while he does all that. They just let him be.
At times, he simply says that the next year will be a better year. No one questions him on that one. Whenever the clouds are delayed, the garden wilts or there is some other ominous thing the MindTree Minds do not quite understand, they turn to him. Often, he is able to explain it to them.
The newly inducted MindTree Minds, particularly the young ones, love him a lot. They adore him. They run after him in abandon, tease him about his cloth bag and frequently hide his stick. While he naps, they try to tickle his ear with a blade of grass. He does not get mad at them. He sits with them and pokes fun at them and plays tic-tac-toe on the sand with them. He tells them, love, must be the reason why we work.
They nag him for stories about saplings and plants they have never seen. He tells them about the Emperor’s Garden in Japan, about the fabled Shalimar Bagh. He also tells them about orchids from the rain forests and the magic of the Kurinji flower, on the mountains in the south of India that blooms only once in twelve years! When he speaks, the young ones listen to him with rapt attention.
The Gardener knows many wizened men outside the gardens of MindTree. Some of them know a lot many things the MindTree Minds do not. There are days he is not seen anywhere around. Everyone knows the cloth bag, the stick and the blanket are probably just sitting under a big banyan tree somewhere and that the Gardener is probably in communion with these wise folks.
He brings nuggets from them and tells their stories to the older MindTree Minds when he returns. He always tells them to try new and different things.
Whenever the owners of the MindTree gardens visit MindTree, they ask for him. He also gets to visit their homes whenever there is a special occasion like a baptism or a wedding.
Sometimes he goes along to the markets where MindTree Minds take their produce and sits down with people from all over who love MindTree’s fruits and flowers. The saplings and the young trees and the really large ones all know that the Gardener loves them. He sees his own task as serving them, not owning them.
The Gardener is a happy man. He says happiness is not what you keep for yourself; it is what you share with everyone around.
Subroto Bagchi is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at MindTree. Effective April 1 st , 2008, Subroto will step out of his role as the Chief Operating Officer and become its Gardener . This document explains his new organizational role. As Gardener, Subroto will work with the Top 100 MindTree Minds on their ‘personal-professional’ issues of leadership and with MindTree’s 45 communities of practice in a pull-based manner. This is part of MindTree’s focus on capacity building as it braces itself for the next phase in the journey of leadership. Illustrations by Soumen MindTree Consulting